Over the weekend I saw a college friend share what she calls a long rant from her husband – a rarity, as she described, because he doesn’t apparently post much on social media. Well, I wouldn’t call it a rant, but instead a well-reasoned plea borne out of frustration, I assume, with a drugstore chain.
I’m paraphrasing (and summarizing) here: “Why don’t you develop an app or website which tells us customers which medicines are available in which branch? So we don’t have to waste time queueing only to find out that the specific medicine we need is not in stock!”
And here I am thinking, well, isn’t that a supply chain issue? This means a warehouse management system that’s configured to transmit inventory levels not just to those working the stock rooms and stores, but also to customers. Maybe if we could go further, this would mean some sort of automation, where deliveries are automatically made when stocks of a certain product hit a critical level. Yes, it sounds complicated, because then you’d have to weigh priorities and deal with transport networks and other factors. But then, it looks like a challenge many of us in supply chain are embracing with gusto, all to maximize value to our end customers, our partners, and our shareholders.
The fact that I saw that post from someone who, as far as I’m aware, isn’t in supply chain suggests one more thing: even more people are becoming aware of the role our profession plays in making things possible. Most may not be able to define the term “supply chain”, but they understand “out of stock” and “delivered on time”, and can connect the dots between them and so much more. I mean, most of us shop online these days – especially in the past month, admit it.
It continues to be an interesting time in supply chain, as all parties involved continue to rush towards it. Conglomerates continue to enter the space (with JG Summit most recently announcing a joint venture with DHL); the government continues building sorely-needed infrastructure to accommodate economic growth; new markets continue to open up (and new challenges are uncovered) by the unstoppable advent of both e-commerce and the spread of brick-and-mortar retail to rural areas. At the same time, stakeholders are beginning to collaborate on many levels to address new issues emerging in the sector, from regulatory concerns to the need to expand capacity and capability. The force is irresistible and we see these efforts continuing to 2020 and, hopefully, beyond.
Well, our hopes are high. In recent weeks we, alongside other industry associations, have moved to further strengthen our collaboration when it comes to common issues affecting supply chain, based on the Ten Commitments of the Philippine Logistics Services Sector signed at last year’s Logistics Services Philippines Conference. On the education front, TESDA has approved national certification programs for warehouse supervisors and administrators, as well as for port personnel, meaning yet another step to professionalizing the industry. And we’re seeing even more players across supply chain eager to share best practices and learn from their peers. And this isn’t just happening in Manila, but all over the country.
When we started this year, SCMAP aimed to build from what we have accomplished in previous years to further our reach and strengthen our relationships with all stakeholders across the supply chain. The more we connect, and the more we engage, the more we move. This work is never truly finished; there will always be more challenges to tackle and more opportunities to seize, and we will continue to do so in 2020 and beyond.
And if we need any reminder of why we do this, we can always look at social media – chances are, someone’s talking about supply chain without exactly knowing it.
Our work is never done, but as 2019 ends and we take stock of all we’ve done and yet to do, we at SCMAP would like to thank everyone who’s made this year – our 30th – a truly accomplished one. To our members, partners, friends and colleagues, please accept our appreciation – and we look forward to more in the coming year. Have a merry Christmas, and may we look towards 2020 with a clear vision.
Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.